Natchez, MS Gas Explosion, Mar 1908

EIGHT KILLED IN EXPLOSION.

GAS WRECKS NATCHEZ STORE AND BURIES VICTIMS IN DEBRIS.

Eight persons are dead, another is badly injured and property valued at many thousands of dollars is a mass of wreckage as the result in the basement in the five-story building occupied by the Natchez Drug company, and located at the corner of Main and North Union streets, near the business portion of Natchez, Miss.
The dead:
CLEVE LAUBET.
MR. KETTERLINGHAM.
MISS LUELLA BOOTH.
LIZZIE WORTHY.
CARRIE MURRAY.
INEZ NETTERVILLE.
ADA WHITE.
ELIAS HOTCHKISS.
The injured:
JOHN KARKETT, 70 years old, both legs broken; not expected to live.
The explosion tore away the rear wall of the building, which in falling crushed an adjoining tenement building. Immediately following the explosion the wreckage caught fire, a stiff wind which was blowing carrying huge sparks to the north and west, setting fire to eighteen residences, ten of which were destroyed. All business has been suspended and the city has been placed under martial law, with local companies of militia on duty.

Cedar Falls Gazette Iowa 1908-03-24

Comments

Natchez Drug Company Disaster, March 14, 1908

Your post above does not mention that the explosion was caused by a plumber looking for a gas leak- with a lit candle. The plumber's name was Sam Burns (my great uncle). He had been doing some work at my grandmother's house on Pearl Street that Saturday morning when, as she recalled many years later, he was called to the Natchez Drug Company project to fix a persistant gas leak. This grandmother was my mother's mother, Uncle Sam was my father's uncle. My father was born June 28, 1908. My father's mother (my paternal grandmother) was at the Natchez Cemetery that morning and could see the smoke from the Natchez Drug Company fire in town. She named her son born about two months later "Sam B. Burns" in honor of her husband's brother who was killed that day. My paternal grandfather's name was Joseph S. Burns. He was a Lt. in the Mississippi National Guard, Company B, and was called up when martial law was declared for a few days following the explosion. He was also a member of the Eagle Hook and Ladder Company of the Natchez Volunteer Fire Department and participated in fighting the fire that day. Witnesses at the inquiry conducted later that week stated that Sam Burns said that the "only way he could find a gas leak was to test it with fire", meaning to run a lighted candle along the pipe joints until it flared up. Young Sam Burns was buried with full military honors since he was a member of the guard, and the fire house bells tolled during the procession to the cemetery since he was also a member of the Natchez Volunteer Fire Department.